Arandhan cooking Festival- Dal Chorchori Sookhi Dal
By Barnali Dutta published by Prasadam:When we set out to gather information about the daily diets and cooking methods of any miscellaneous tribe we develop a certain feeling of superiority within ourselves. This complex results in creation of variations in the methods that are indigenous to that particular tribe. Unless we dispose off such feelings completely no traditional cooking process can be recorded in a proper manner. The culinary knowledge that we already possess [which is usually more complicated] overpowers the innocence of the traditional recipe.
It is also noticeable that this "higher class" culinary knowledge introduces a type of inferiority complex among the masses that tries to overcome it by attempting to use some of this knowledge in the traditional recipe and thus slowing down the recording of the authentic traditional recipes. In this digital age, everybody has access to more or less every existing cuisine around the globe. Hence the ancient recipes of my family are free from such superstition. Renovation and preservation of the old recipes overcoming these boundaries of religion, customs and rites or 'aachar' is our only objective.
In the district of West Bengal "24 Parganas" on the event of sankranti in the month of Bhadra, Arandhan a traditional food festival is observed. Arandhan means "do not cook". All the cooking for the grand feast is done through the course of the night before that is on the eve of the festival and no cooking is done on the day of the festival. The one day "stale food" is feasted upon in a grand manner on the day of the festival. Nothing is served hot and some even resort to 'panta' means. The cooking is done by the women of the house and no professional help is taken.
After completion of the 'Brahma' puja or 'unan' [earthen stove] puja, substantial amount of water is mixed with the rice to cool it down. A non-fried fish and a dal chorchori is a must. All the items are prepared in a dry manner and meat is a strict no no. The aristocrats of prepare 36 different kinds of dishes and invite their relatives and neighbours got the grand feast. This is called doing 'Panna'. Visvakarma puja also celebrated on this day. West Bengal celebrates this auspicious day of the 'machine God' by flying kites like kite festival of Makar Sankranti [Ghuri or Shakrain Festival of Bangladesh]. All factories and workshops remain closed on this day and a rainbow of colourful papers is visible in the sky. Post the early morning puja and the feast involved with it, almost anybody and everybody can be seen with a 'latai' in hand getting ready to be indulged in a considerable competition associated with the game of kite flying, kite-fights and attacking other kites to bring them down.
And the air is occasionally reverberated with kashor ghonta [temple gong of Bengal] and shouts of "Bhokatta ভোকাট্টা!!" which is the traditional word that signifies the bringing down of a kite somewhere and the sprints of groups of young kite enthusiasts towards the fallen warrior with dry branches to be used as sticks in hand. A full holiday studded with the excitements of puja, a hearty feast and the kite games of "পেটকাটি , চাঁদিয়াল, মোমবাতি, বগ্গা, দয়াল, পক্ষিরাজ , চাপরাশ , চৌরঙ্গী , শতরঞ্জি , মুখপোড়া , পান" [petkati, chadiyal, mombati, bogga, doyal, ponkhiraj, chaprash, chowrongee, shotronji, mukhpora, and paan - the name of the kites] is greatly welcomed and enjoyed by all.
The specialty behind the preparation of the Barendra [এদেশীয়] Bengali special chorchori is the tempering of 'tejpata', chillie and methi or fenugreek [instead of Bengali five spices like East Bengal people] and the finishing that consists of green chillie, shorshe bata and a little amount of raw mustard oil. For veg chorchoris the vegetables are required to be cut in thin, large and slender pieces and for non-veg chorchoris phoron [tempering] of some onion with slight amounts of kalojeera can be used but never shorshe. It can be slightly fried in texture but if the vegetables get fried to a greater amount and is mixed then the preparation cannot be called a chorchori but ghonto.
Sookhi Dal recipe - Dal Chorchori regional recipe
Prep time: 6 hour | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 6 hour 10 min | Yield: 1 medium bowl
Serving size: 4 to 5 balls | Calories per serving: 125
- Yellow pigeon pea or motor dal [মটর ডাল]: 1 cup,
- Amaranth stem, Bengal Katoar Danta [কাটোয়ার ডাঁটা] cut in one inch length: 1 cup,
- Water: 2 cups,
- Turmeric and red chili powder: 1/4 tsp each
- Salt and sugar: 1 tsp each
- Mustered and green chili paste: 1 tbsp
- Bay leaves and whole red chili: 1 each
- Whole fenugreek or methi: 1/2 tsp
- Ginger paste: 1/2 tsp
- Cooking oil, [preferably mustard oil]: 1 tbsp
- Wash and clean the motor dal and soak the dal overnight or 5 to 6 hours in one cup water.
- With the help of stone pestle make just half broken from the soaked dal.
- To a medium pan heat oil add bay leaves, whole red chilies, and fenugreek seeds for tempering, soaked and broken dal, fry well, add turmeric and red chili powder, fry well.
- Add salt and 1 cup hot water to cook the dal, now keep the fire to low. Do not overcook the dal. It should be tender to touch, but intact. Now add Amaranth stem and fry well.
- After 5 to 7 minutes add ginger paste and sugar, stir well allowing any liquid that has accumulated to evaporate.
- Add mustard and green chili paste and fry until the unique and irresistible flavor of mustard paste comes out, put off the fire. Add 1 teaspoon raw mustard oil. Give a resting time, uncovered. Transfer to a serving platter.
- This dal is cooked until just tender and serve dry. It goes very well with any kind of rice, roti or puri.